Shortage of ammunition leaves police stuck behind desks

By Tshego Lepule Time of article published May 20, 2018

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Cape Town - More than 4 500 police officers, who could be fighting crime in Cape Town, are stuck behind their desks because they failed their firearm competency tests.

The police have said a shortage of ammunition in the Western Cape is the main reason for the failure of the officers, which has resulted in them filling admin posts instead of being deployed in the field to help fight crime.

This week Community Safety spokesperson Mireille Wenger disclosed that for the 2017/2018 financial year, 4 556 officers did not complete their annual firearm competency evaluation.

According to police regulations, officers who fail this test were required to hand in their firearms and wait for the next cycle of evaluations to repeat the test.

Wenger said the biggest concern was that the province only has one shooting range.

“It is disturbing to learn that the only shooting range in the province is not even in full operation due to a lack of ammunition and safety issues that still need to be rectified,” Wenger said.

Speaking to Weekend Argus, an officer who wished to not be identified, said the shortage means officers could no longer practise before the next evaluation, hence the high failure rate.

“Having your gun confiscated affects not only the effectiveness of police but their dignity as well. As a member you feel like you are being demoted,” she said.

“We get one annual shooting test and normally the instructors would give us a handful of rounds to practise with before the assessment begun.

“But since the shortage of ammunition began the reality now is that if you fail on the 9mm handgun, when you go back for a remedial course, you are told to bring your own ammunition.

"Where are officers expected to find ammunition, this surely will tempt officers to turn into criminals. This is the second year in a row that shortage of ammunition has been an issue.”

Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union’s spokesperson Richard Mamabola said they would be engaging with provincial police management to ensure that this matter is dealt with.

“What we have said in the past is that we need to have more training for police officers, even those who have passed so that their skills are always updated,” he said.

Weekend Argus

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